What Has Happened to Retail Uniforms?

By Bob Morrell on July 28, 2014

On a recent trip to Tesco, they were having a non-uniform day. They still wore their badges, but wore their own clothes. Out went the blue tabards and on went nice jeans, tops, jewellery etc.

This change also woke up the personalities of all, and and I am sure contributed to a better day's trading too. They now do it every week.

Let's talk about the tabard. This is an item of clothing that has actually not changed since medieval times. In those days a knight's squire, or a castle servant would wear a coloured tabard over their usual peasants garb, and this would denote their loyalty to the Lord of the Manor. Hundreds of years on, the blue tabard, usually ill-fitting, now denotes a female member of staff for a major supermarket. They just look dreadful.

The tabard must go. We have all learnt, surely, that a tabard is a very status-killing piece of clothing. Why do women have to wear them and not men? Time to go. Time for the tabard to be consigned to history.

We can't stop there, black shirts, polo shirts for everyone, black polyester trousers, poor quality shiny suits, again for women, in banks and travel agents, t-shirts, neck scarfs on air hostesses, baseball hats, badges with stars on, crap ties on men in short-sleeved shirts, stretchy 70's blouses, jackets with massive shoulder pads, skin coloured tights, court shoes, green bomber jackets, green branded fleeces, greasy overalls with oil smeared logos, sun visor caps, with messages on, massive tin badges, the trolley-person's all weather gear that makes them look like a Michelin man, you get the picture!

Why do we have to prescribe clothing for staff? To denote 'function' to show 'status' to set apart customer from staff member, like two sides in a battle, which it sometimes is.

Why black? Because it doesn't show dirt? Still makes you look odd though! Why shiny polyester? because it's cheap. Why uniforms at all? Because we always have and we simply don't trust our staff to dress themselves in a way which is suitable to serve our customers. How utterly patronising. The time has come to put an end to this. Here are the top 3 items of staff clothing that must go:

1. The tabard

2. The polyester female retail suit.

3. The branded fleece.

If these all disappear the world will be a happier place. if we empower our staff to dress appropriately for their job they will do so. Maybe give them a badge if you have to - and I know for certain that your relationship with customers will improve.